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Bachmann falsely claims Star Tribune did ‘hit piece’ on son

Via Minnesota Public Radio’s Polinaut, Sixth District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has issued a “fundraising appeal” alleging that the Star Tribune “gave a full column to a hit piece on one of my kids!”

The “Bachmann blast” refers to Wednesday’s Jon Tevlin column about Bachmann’s son Harrison joining an Americorps program — which the congresswoman said amounted to taxpayer-funded liberal “re-education camps.”

Bachmann’s claim about Tevlin’s piece is false. Here are his specific references to Harrison Bachmann, who will be working under the auspices of Teach for America:

For the first time, we have to rely on the charity of good kids like Harrison Bachmann to step up and help out at our schools.

and:

The pay’s not bad for a recent graduate, but Harrison will likely earn it. According to the TFA website: “Our teachers … go above and beyond traditional expectations to lead their students to significant academic achievement, despite the challenges of poverty and the limited capacity of the school system. Our mission is to build the movement to eliminate educational inequity by enlisting our nation’s most promising future leaders in the effort.”

Harrison must be a smart kid, a caring kid. Must have been raised well.

and:

As an AmeriCorps member, he won’t be allowed to participate in politics or disseminate partisan material. Even if there were a “propaganda camp,” as Jeffers called it, he sounds like the kind of person who could survive it.

Thank you, Harrison, for your service. Here’s hoping you inspire kids to dream, and get inspired in the process.

This wasn’t a hit piece on your son, Congresswoman — it was a hit piece on you. And not in your capacity as a mother, but as an elected public official.

Ironically, Bachmann expresses concern in the email about being “Palinized,” which she defines in part as:

To smear or mock someone using falsehoods, baseless accusations or unsubstantiated character assassinations for the purpose of blocking them from achieving a goal.
 
To exaggerate the truth or lie by omission.

Sounds exactly like what Bachmann has done here.

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Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by John Autey on 08/13/2009 - 04:05 pm.

    Honestly, Bachmann is so far out there that even other Republicans must cringe when she opens her mouth. Yet she keeps getting elected by her district. What does that say about the people of sixth?

  2. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 08/13/2009 - 04:11 pm.

    “To smear or mock someone using falsehoods, baseless accusations or unsubstantiated character assassinations for the purpose of blocking them from achieving a goal.

    “To exaggerate the truth or lie by omission.”

    Done here? No, David, that’s what Michele Bachmann has done her entire political career. It’s not “Palinized,” it’s “The Bachmann Playbook.”

  3. Submitted by Dave Kopesky on 08/13/2009 - 05:29 pm.

    Too bad she won’t emulate Sarah whom she admires so much and resign before she embarrasses this state any more.

  4. Submitted by Howard Miller on 08/13/2009 - 06:20 pm.

    Mr. Brauer seems to have this story exactly right.

  5. Submitted by Joel Rosenberg on 08/13/2009 - 06:51 pm.

    I liked the piece; I thought it was a fair cop — and while, generally, I think that politicians’ kids are offlimits (and will note the thundering silence from a lot of folks about the attacks on Sarah Palin’s kids that couldn’t possibly be described as attacks on Governor Palin by anybody sane and sober) Tevlin’s piece, although light, was pretty clearly a hit on Bachmann, and not on her kid, who it’s clear from the content and the context is doing something that Tevlin thinks is admirable. (So, for that matter, do I — although it is fair to note that there don’t appear to be a lot of folks throwing high-paying jobs at Republican politicians’ family members these days, so, perhaps, it’s not like the Bachmann kid likely gave up a high-paying lobbyist gig to take the AmeriCorps one.)

    That said, I’ll cut Bachmann a break on this — as, being one of the designated targets to freeze, personalize, polarize and isolate, she should hardly be able to register slams against herself by this point.

  6. Submitted by Nicole Kimmel on 08/13/2009 - 08:05 pm.

    This is what’s wrong with our country. We have politicians who refuse to live in the real world. It’s as if they’re having conversations with themselves regardless of what others are actually saying or what’s actually going on. It’s like we’re all at the same bar, but the voters are sober and the politicians are sloppy drunk, oblivious to the fact that we can see, hear and understand what they’re actually doing.

    Or maybe the voters aren’t sober; we keep voting for these freaking people.

    How refreshing would it be to have a politician, on the left or right, actually be genuine? Just. Once.

  7. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 08/14/2009 - 12:03 am.

    None of this changes the fact that most of the people receiving Rep. Bachmann’s fundraising appeal will know only what Bachmann tells them about this. They won’t read Tevlin, they’ll just take Bachmann at her word.

    In recent days we’ve learned about advanced directives, the real life “death planning” that’s endorsed by churches and, in earlier days, by both Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. Both politicians have attacked death planning for purely political reasons.

    Our political dialogue is bankrupt because one side brings nothing to the table other than lies and disinformation, and a tragic one of out five adult Americans buys their bilge.

    Sam Tanenhaus has a new book out called The Death of Conservatism in which he makes the case that this Republican party is neither conservative or fact-based. They are counter-revolutionaries devoted to destroying government and many of major institutions.

    I can’t think of a better example of what Tanenhaus is talking about than Michele Bachmann our counter-revolutionary radical Congresswoman.

  8. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/14/2009 - 07:30 am.

    I thought it was a dishonest and contemptible and really stupid piece of journalism. There is quite simply nothing inconsistent or nothing wrong with a Congresswoman’s son participating in a program which the Congresswoman happens to have criticized.

  9. Submitted by Jeff Klein on 08/14/2009 - 09:08 am.

    “…even other Republicans must cringe when she opens her mouth…”

    Ah, no. This is one of the stranger things about Republicans: their loyalty is unbelievable. Democrats, being more independent-thinking sorts, will usually point out when one of their own is wrong, but Republicans will stick by their very nuttiest til the end.

  10. Submitted by Jeff Cagle on 08/14/2009 - 11:29 am.

    Hiram,

    What was so dishonest and contemptible about Joe Tevlin writing about the irony of a Congresswoman’s son joining AmeriCorp, an organization she strongly opposes? And since she won’t answer this question (and maybe you can), why is this a “hit piece” on Michele Bachmann’s family? If you read the entire column, you’ll see that Harrison Bachmann was actually brought up well. After all, he was described as “a smart kid, a caring kid,” who must have been raised well.

    And to answer John Autey’s post, people in the sixth district keep electing her because she’s pro-life and she’s considered “hot” by the male population. She doesn’t need to say anything intelligent, and can get away with saying anything to them because of her looks. Kind of reminds me of Sarah Palin’s popularity with males in this country. Enough said?

  11. Submitted by Michael Ernst on 08/14/2009 - 12:50 pm.

    She did get “Palinized,” she just got the definition wrong:

    To mock someone using truths, proven accusations or substantiated character assassinations because it’s just too easy.

    To tell the truth and reveal her lies of omission.

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/14/2009 - 02:14 pm.

    What was so dishonest and contemptible about Joe Tevlin writing about the irony of a Congresswoman’s son joining AmeriCorp, an organization she strongly opposes?

    I don’t see the irony. Michele isn’t responsible for what her son does, and her son isn’t a public figure. And let’s be just a little bit honest here, unlike Tevlin. Don’t we all know that Teach for America wasn’t what Michele was criticizing Americorps for?

    “why is this a “hit piece” on Michele Bachmann’s family?”

    Because Tevlin used her family against her for political advantage. That would be unacceptable for a political activist like me and really way out of bounds for a supposedly independent journalist like Tevlin.

  13. Submitted by Patrick Donnelly on 08/14/2009 - 03:13 pm.

    Hiram — Tevlin didn’t use her family against her for political advantage. He’s not running against her. He’s an “independent journalist,” to use your own words, doing his job, sharing his observations on the political climate we’re in today.

    I thought the piece was brilliant for the same reason that David pointed out — it’s not a hit piece on her son, it’s a hit piece on the Congresswoman herself. She uses crazed rhetoric to smear her political opponents or programs that they support, when in reality many or most of those people and programs are far more praiseworthy than Ms. Bachmann herself. And apparently her own son has figured that out as well. If he can see through her BS, can the good people of the Sixth be far behind?

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/14/2009 - 04:01 pm.

    “Tevlin didn’t use her family against her for political advantage.”

    “it’s a hit piece on the Congresswoman herself.”

    Notice the contradiction? Maybe Tevlin’s malice wasn’t politically motivated. Maybe it was based on nonpartisan and unmotivated nastiness.

    The fact is, Michele’s kid is not a political figure and should be off limits. But the facts of this story reflect nothing but credit on Congressman Bachmann and her family. And I don’t like Congressman Bachmann, and I would prefer not to read favorable stories about her that end up making liberals look bad.

  15. Submitted by Patrick Donnelly on 08/14/2009 - 04:17 pm.

    Well, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I think this story speaks well of Bachmann’s parenting and poorly of her political performance. And the fact that her son is taking part in a “liberal” program that she abhors *is* news — it’s the “man-bites-dog” scenario that all writers dream about. Tevlin wouldn’t be doing his job if he’d heard about it and not reported it. Call me naive, but I’d like to think he’d do the same were the parties reversed, i.e. if the child of a vehement anti-war politician (think Dennis Kucinich) enlisted in the armed forces.

  16. Submitted by Michael Ernst on 08/14/2009 - 05:14 pm.

    Anti-war is not the same as anti-armed forces.

  17. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/15/2009 - 07:58 am.

    “I think this story speaks well of Bachmann’s parenting and poorly of her political performance.”

    There are so many dumb things Bachmann has said, so it’s unfortunate that Tevlin chose the one that had the net effect of making her and her family look good. I think it says something wonderful about a family in which a parent holds strong views, with which strong minded adult children disagree, assuming that’s even the case here.

    Maybe in Tevlin’s family, all the kids parrot the views of their father, and are “ironic” to the extent they don’t. But let’s just say that there are a lot of strong and healthy families where that isn’t the case, and when that isn’t the case that isn’t a negative reflection on either the parents or the kids.

    “Call me naive, but I’d like to think he’d do the same were the parties reversed, i.e. if the child of a vehement anti-war politician (think Dennis Kucinich) enlisted in the armed forces.”

    Such a story would reflect just as favorably on that politician and his family the the Bachmann story does on Bachmann’s. It’s Tevlin’s apparent belief that children should be little replicas of their parents or otherwise should be subject to the scorn of newspaper columnists, that I find kind of creepy.

  18. Submitted by Kay Hatlestad on 08/15/2009 - 11:08 pm.

    When a politician says, “As a parent, I would have a very, very difficult time seeing my children do this.” and their child does do this, it’s news. It is not a smear on the family, but pointing out that Bachmann must be having a difficult time.

  19. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/16/2009 - 08:50 am.

    “When a politician says, “As a parent, I would have a very, very difficult time seeing my children do this.” and their child does do this, it’s news.”

    Why? Is it news when anyone else has a difficult time with his kids? And let’s just say, this particular problem with wayward offspring is one many parents would like to have.

    Is it really such a terrible and awful thing to have a child accepted in a highly selective program for young teachers? Let’s get real here, do you think that Michele is anything other than proud of her son?

    In this country, we really need to get away from this practice of deciding to believe lies just because we find it politically convenient. It’s the truth that sets us free, not the soothing falsification.

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